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Politics & Government

2 State Senators Want Corbett to End Lottery Privatization Bid

Two Democratic state senators want Gov. Tom Corbett to pull the plug on his efforts to privatize Pennsylvania's Lottery and turn his attention to what they say are more pressing issues including transportation funding, Medicaid expansion and education funding.  

UK-based Camelot Global Services' original bid to operate Pennsylvania's Lottery was to expire at the end of 2012, but the Corbett administration and the company agreed on an extension of the offer. A contract was then finalized Jan. 16 which called for Camelot to give the state $34.6 billion over 20 years. In exchange Camelot would be allowed to increase the gaming options including Keno.

However, 30 days later state Attorney General Kathleen Kane rejected the contract Thursday on the grounds it violates the state constitution and state law. Since then the administration and Camelot have been agreeing to extensions to give the administration more time to "refine contract language."  

The latest extension, the 10th, is set to expire Oct. 29. Sen. Tim Solobay (D-Washington) says there is no public demand for privatization.  

"I really have had no one tell me or ask me to do what the governor is proposing," he said.

Solobay said it's "frustrating" because the Lottery revenues have been increasing annually for several years.

"If they're interested in making more money for the Lottery, I think we could expand that within our own Lottery Commission," he said, "and maybe if anything, have a consulting group assist them with looking at new things."

Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Philadephia), the ranking Democrat on the Aging and Youth Committee, said the governor should end the extension immediately.  

"Money that comes from the Lottery is for senior citizens, and by trying to do anything that would take away from that funding, is taking away from senior citizen programs, and that's a no-no," Washington said.

The administration said earlier it's trying to increase revenues for those programs by privatizing the lottery and needs the extension to "explore and review options for maximizing lottery profits for senior citizen programs long term."

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